Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

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Monk's Café Flemish Sour AleMonk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

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BA SCORE
86
very good

1,088 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,088
Hads: 2,699
rAvg: 3.84
pDev: 12.24%
Wants: 75
Gots: 343 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Flanders Oud Bruin |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: nomad on 06-19-2003

Brewed for Monk's Café in Philadelphia, but also available for retail purchase elsewhere. Oud Bruin in style; a traditional blend of young and old beers.
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Reviews: 1,088 | Hads: 2,699
Photo of PSUBeerman
4.05/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz bottle in tulip glass
*First sour I recall tasting

Deep mahogany/garnet color. Head is off white, slightly tan color. Head pours frothy, but dissipated quickly. Definite lacing and retention around glass.

Vinegar aroma hits immediately. Characteristics of red wine in the aroma as well.

Nice carbonation. I thought it was refreshing and very drinkable as far as the mouthfeel.

I thought the taste was well balanced between the sour / tartness and the sweetness. I am a vinegar lover, so I may be biased to say that it was not overpowering with tartness. I picked up some fruitiness, possibly cherry. It reminds me of a local winemaker who bottled a sour cherry wine.

I enjoyed this. Was not what i expected with my first try at a sour ale. (752 characters)

Photo of cwc
4.6/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Wow, this beer kind of changed my life, as far as beers go. Never having had a "sour red ale", I really wasn't sure what to expect, but what a treat it was! This is one of the most refreshing and tasty beers I can remember consuming and it really opens up a whole world of beers for future consumption! Really, this is a unique and special beer worth seeking out and trying.

T - very distinct and refreshing. Maybe all "sour red ales" taste like this, but it was a new and distinct taste for me - and it worked!

D - One could probably enjoy quite a few of these very easily. Not too strong by any means. (606 characters)

Photo of VinnyA
3.99/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Source: 11.2oz bottle
Served: tulip glass

Appearance: pours a deep red with about 1 inch tan head.

Smell: sugar, sour apple, hint of cherry

Taste: slightly bitter and moderately sour. Low tartness. Notice some vinegar. Beer gives way to a relatively clean finish, it is very much a palate cleansing beer. Tasty, however, I can't quite put my finger on what makes this unique.

Mouthfeel: high carbonation. Monks has a mild bite on the back end of the tongue that fades out into a refreshing yet dry finish. It quenches your thirst and is a nice cleanser.

Overall: this is a good entry-level sour red. I have to recommend having it on draft at monks cafe in Philly, if you're in the area. It is a lot softer, mildly carbonated and sweeter which balances out the sourness brilliantly. Still, the bottled version is a good beer to have before eating meat or as a relaxer on a summer evening. If you like the style, I'd recommend buying a case of it at least once. Very easy to drink. If you're looking for a more complete Oud Bruin, I recommend the Liefmans Goudenband. (1,070 characters)

Photo of jenitivecase
3.87/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to EmperorStan for bringing this one back from CA.

A: Pours a clear, coppery red, with a loose, fizzy head that dissipates leaving straggly lacing behind.

S: Clean scent. Picking up the usual sour fruits - plums, apples, etc., with some notes of acidity and a touch of citrus.

T: Very average sour ale. Not too sour, but not too sweet, although there is a good deal of sweetness in the taste. Again, lots of fruitiness, and the slightest touch of barnyard. Makes me think of candy apples.

M: Slightly watery, but not unpleasantly so. Nothing really stand out here, but nothing negative, either. Leaves a nice clean palate behind.

D: This may be a slightly generic sour, but it's a well-crafted one. I would have no problem at all with putting away a 750 of this on my own. Definitely a session drinker. (815 characters)

Photo of djeffbee
4.15/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at Canal's Discount Liquors in Pennsauken, NJ. Very shocked to see this on the shelf, couldn't pass it up @ $1.99/bottle...

A - Pours deep amber to ruby, with no haze and a short head that fades quickly leaving lotsa lacing behind.

S - Sour cherries and green apples. More pleasant than expected based on other reviews.

T - WOW. Sour cherries (talking sour patch kids) with a mild malty background and no apparent hop presence. This is good.

M - I liken this to sucking on a lemon - a bit tart at first, making you pucker and leaving a very pleasant clean tingle. Nice.

D - Very good. I was expecting so much worse. This is an excellent beverage. I could see maybe two at a sitting, but not much more beyond that. (kinda like you wouldn't drink a few Coke's in a row)

Very enjoyable and will definitely purchase this again.. (840 characters)

Photo of EmoBeerGuy
3.69/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Wow.

This was the first Sour Ale I had ever tried and it was something else. I need to read up on here about the process that goes into creating the sour taste but I am assuming it is something akin to sour dough.

A - Looks like a fairly standard brown ale. Unimpressed by the head.

S- Woah. The first sign that something is off. This stuff will turn your nose but you gotta just plunge in anyways.

T- Completle unique. As advertised it is quite sour but has some malt to back it up.

D- Hard to say. I've rated it low because it is a "one is enough" type beer, but for that one beer you don't really get sick of it.


Overall - A style all beer lovers should try, at least once. (696 characters)

Photo of brushpig
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Found a bottle at Sams wines in Chicago, the clerk recommended it.

I have never had a flemish sour before so I have no comparision, but I found it very interesting.

A Redish Brown Hue, with a head that was really non existant.

I smelled cherries right off, sour apples, with acidic sweetness to it.

The taste of sweet cherries was right upfront, then the sour, lightly acidic flavor. Not that complex, but a nice flavor.

The mouth feel I didn't like, the finish never finished, and left my mouth tart and sour, but not in a good way.

My tolerance for the sour and tart is not high in a beer, but the flavor was not bad. Not sure if I am a Flemish sour ale guy. I will have to try more to see. (710 characters)

Photo of BeerHonky
3.41/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

While there's always something wonderful to be said about Monk's Cafe, I have to say that this beer was a little bit of a bummer. The beer looks beautiful. It pours a wonderfully bright reddish brown with a nice fluffy, pale khaki head. It smells sweet and wild and yeasty. A bit of fruityness can be detected here I'd say, but nothing out of the ordinary. The taste starts out really sweet and tart. Almost gummi bear-ish, obviously not as sweet as that, but a little too sweet in my mind for a flemmish sour. There's a decent bit of sourness and a hint of wood that appears after that first blast of sweet and tart changes into a wild and funky aftertaste if you don't go for another sip too soon. The mouthfeel is very refreshing with its scrubby, spritzy carbonation. I must say though, this isn't highly drinkable due to its level of sweetness. Again, I was a little bummed. (879 characters)

Photo of FACEMEAT
3.45/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass

A: Pours a reddish brown with a thin later of loose head that quickly becomes a thin cap. Little lacing remains on my glass.

S: Definitely a sour overtone on the nose. Earthy sour cherries and granny smith apples dominate with an earthy Belgian funk behind.

T: The sourness isn't as prominent on the palate as it is on the nose. It's there, but just not as much as I had expected. A sweet finish lingers on my tongue.

M: Way too much carbonation with a medium mouthfeel.

D: The sweetness kills any chances of downing more than one of these. (585 characters)

Photo of kindacold
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pouts a deep red with approximately a one inch, reddish-brown head. Head dissipates after a few minutes. Smells sour, almost candy-like. First sip is like a kick in the face. EXTREMELY sour, almost like a sweet tart. After the initial shock, the beer goes down with a lot of carbonation and much tingling. The sour taste remains in the mouth and even the throat for a long time after each sip, however, it somehow adds to the beer's refreshing taste. I will continue to drink this beer when I come inside from a hot day. (520 characters)

Photo of dqderrick
3.9/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

SOUR VIRGIN!!! (Hop Head and Imperial Stout fan)

Keep in mind that I'm currently acquiring the sour beer taste. This is my second sour. My first was the Duchess de Bourgogne which I didn't put through a proper review. I picked these two sours after seeing suggestions on initial sour beers to try here on the forums.

A - 3.5
Pours a burnt red/brown. 1/4" head, sticks around for a good 5 minutes. Reminds me of a dark lager.

S - 3 (then a 3.5)
Smells like a sour grape juice at first. A little woody. Maybe some vinegar. Develops a sweet smell at the end. After a few sips... I pick up a strong cherry sent. Very cherry.

T - 4
Sour, sweet, juicy. I pick up both sweet and sour. I agree with the label. Very refreshing with a light body.

MF - 4.5
Fun and bubbly. I don't know really what to expect here. I will probably give really high marks on MF until I get a feel for sours. But, I enjoyed the MF on the Monk's.

D - 4
First 4oz was tough. After 8 oz was sipped, I was getting the hang/jist of it. I started picking up the cherry nose and enjoying the overall experience. I've had a few conversations with "sour-heads" and started picking up on their notes. 4 seems a little high... but you know, I actually enjoyed finishing this bottle.

Will I fully pickup the sour style? Time will tell. Check out my reviews after the Monk's.
http://beeradvocate.com/user/beer_reviews?ba=dqderrick (1,395 characters)

Photo of TwinSox33
4.08/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Pours dark rusty brown, with a lacy head.

S: Smells like a strong wine at first, then hints of sour malts and a touch of grain.

T: Very tart; there are some astringent phenolic like tastes intertwined with fruity esters. I think there might be a tinge of hops, but I Can't discern what type.

M: Very smooth at first, then the effervescence rushes up on you after a few sips.

D: Highly Drinkable. Quite unique and refreshing. I'd like to try brewing it myself, as it is a hit-or-miss affair trying to find it.... (518 characters)

Photo of fragilehearted
4.33/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

11.2oz bottle into a tulip. Thanks to Brez07 for this in a recent BIF! I've had it before, but it's just not sold where I live, so I seek it out whenever I can. It's one of my favorites!

A - dark brownish red. nice tan head, but it goes down pretty quickly into a cloud-covered ring. Leaves a bit of lacing hanging out in blotches.

S - sour fruits, acid, vinegar. Kind of reminds me of a vinaigrette dressing. Could be better, actually, but well, I'm into aromas.

T - tart, but not too tart. There's some sweetness in there too. Cherries, grapes, apples...fruits. Lots of sours are just overwhelmingly sour (not always a bad thing), but I like this one a lot because of the balance.

M - light. pretty carbonated, but I don't generally mind that in a beer. Goes down so smooth.

D - super duper. I could drink this all the time. It's not overly sour, has just a touch of sweetness that makes it much more drinkable than the average sour, especially for those not familiar w/ the style. For that reason, I think it'd be a great intro to the style - was mine, way back when! And if you can find it, usually not a bad price tag either. (1,136 characters)

Photo of MufflnMan
4.03/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The Thirsty Monk. Poured a reddish color with a frothy off white head. Smells of tart fruit... apples, cherries, berries. Taste is the perfect amount of sour. Just what I was looking for in this kind of brew. Green apples and cherries nicely balanced to create a really refreshing feel. (296 characters)

Photo of Goldopelgt
4.2/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Poured a reddish brown with a whitish head and some decent lacing.

S- Initially hit with vinegar and sour fruits...complex, but pleasant. Definitely some funk, but what to be expected with this style.

T- Tart, acidic, sour--everything you would expect from this beer. Very nice!

M- Somewhat thin, carbonated, but again what you would expect from this style.

D- Very drinkable....want to try it again. I really enjoyed this beer and would definitely recommend it. (469 characters)

Photo of Brewsephus
3.19/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

11.2 oz bottle poured into tulip glass.

A- Pours a off-white 2 finger head. Head lasts longer than a minute and leaves very delicate lacing on inside of glass. Beer is a very dark red, almost opaque, held up to light reveals a deep ruby color. Small/Medium bubbles on surface.

S-Sour fruit, lemon, unripe plum, cherry pie.

T-deep cherry, baked pie, sweet resinous fruit, nectar. Very subtle malt sweetness. Sourness approaches the front of the palate, but is not sharp or vinegar. Just unripe fruit. A little band-aid flavor on the finish into aftertaste.

M- Carbonation is nicely effervescent, at first I thought it might take away from the wonderful flavor, but it would be too viscous and syrupy with all the fruit and less carbonation. Body is light, but not lacking in mouth-feel. Alcohol is unnoticeable.

O- This is one of my first Flanders and I must say I am pleasantly surprised. I enjoy the fruit characteristics, and while not puckering sour it is a lot more tender than I anticipated. A really nice, but not great, nuanced sour. (1,049 characters)

Photo of slackattack
3.61/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into red wine glass

A- first thought was dirty river water. Started off with about half a finger of tight foam, dissipated pretty quickly, lacing was not really present

S- red wine vinegar, sour cherries in your face. Bright and acidic and pretty awesome.

T- started off following the nose, then got away from the sourness a little. Fell off toward the end for me and got a little sweet, maybe it's supposed to, but I would prefer a little more persistent bit.

M- medium to medium-full bodied. There's a definitively detectable amount of malt that I feel like is responsible for the body, not great, not terrible either.

O- like I said, if the label says sour I want and expect sour all the way. The sweetness that came through about 2 seconds into every sip was unwelcome. Didn't hate it, won't buy again though. (837 characters)

Photo of BeardedSquash
3.72/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep mahogany with a little over a finger of loose off-white head. Head recedes fairly quickly, leaving only thin lace.

S: Smells sour, but not infected like a Lambic. Light musty odor. Smells delicious.

T: Not as sour as the name would suggest, but tart. A bit of green apple on the sides of the tongue. Acidic and sweet, no defined hop presence.

M: Airy bubbles that fizz only slightly on the tongue. The acidity creates a thin layer of phlegm to guide the bubbling liquid down gently.

D: Wonderfully light on the palate and stomach. A great beer to introduce others to sour ales. Great for a hot day in the baby pool. (636 characters)

Photo of daftafne
2.58/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: beautiful dark brown liquid, a finger of light tan head which dissipates quickly

Smell: Vinegar

Mouthfeel: Bubbly, crisp, medium-light body

Taste: sour apples, vinegar, raisins, dates

Drinkability: Not really my type of beer. I have had the rodenbach red and really loved it (similar type of beer though not as overwhelmingly vinegar-esque). Low alcohol so you could have a few if you like the taste. I havent had many of this type so I cant really say how it compares to other sour ales. (505 characters)

Photo of matt20102
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served at about 45deg. into goblet. Pours with a very large, foamy head which lasts for quite a while. The initial aroma is strongly of tart cherries and little else. The flavor is similar with a subtle vinegar sourness on the finish. Some tasters have written that this might be unpleasant but I suspect that this is much to do with the freshness of the particular bottle.

As the bottle progresses, the sour and tart components come forward along with a slight musty flavor and distinct sweetness- somewhat cloying but not a malt sweetness. There's not a lot going on here making it a great entry-level sour beer. It is also quite refreshing and could be a fantastic pairing with cream-heavy desserts. (704 characters)

Photo of darky
3.17/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

Poured from a bottle into a Saxo tulip/snifter

A:deep ruby reddish brown, thick, persistent white head and ample carbonation.

S: Tart fruits, and an astringent lemon-y scent.

T: Fruit punch at first, followed immediately by grapefruit, grapes, alcohol and a sour finish backed by strong carbonation. This is not a great example of this style. While different, and enjoyable, the flavor is really not very refined. The flavor of this beer has loads of character, but the component flavors are all fighting attention and fail to make a cohesive statement.

M: While the carbonation is strong, it pulls off a really nice smooth, almost creamy mouthfeel, that really benefits this beer overall. A definite strong point.

O: This is about third time I've had this beer, and I'm drinking this one a little warmer than before, probably around 45-50 degrees F. That said, this brew is better consumed a little colder. If you are introducing someone new to Belgians, by all means, do NOT start them out with beer. I think it would be very interesting to throw this brew into the mix in a blind taste with others of it category, but at the end of the day, your money is better spent elsewhere. (1,186 characters)

Photo of dude
3.18/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Huge, duvel-like head of foam. Liquid is reddish-brown and clear. Aroma is acetic and fruity, like a vinegar made from wine and apple cider. Taste initially is sour, but this leaves quickly leaving a lightly sweet cherry flavor. It tastes nothing like beer I'm used to. No malt or hop notes. Finish is clean with almost no aftertaste. Mouthfeel is slightly flat. Maybe I poured it wrong I don't know. I'd drink a second bottle if one was available, but then move on. (466 characters)

Photo of PeterLemonjello
3.31/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Very pretty beer. Pours a dark/rusty ruby color. Clear with nice carbonation. Thin head which remains during drinking. Nice lacing on glass.

S - Smells of sweet fruit with a touch of sour cider. Ever so slight touch of barnyard.

T - Tastes nice but a little sweet. Tastes of sweet cherries with a sour flavor present but just not enough to balance out the sweetness. I want to enjoy it more as it tastes very nice, but the sweetness just needs to be balances out with more sour or more barnyard which just isn't there enough to balance.

M - Lovely mouthfeel with prickly carbonation. Not too think and not too think.

D - Tough for me rank higher on drinkability because of the sweetness. If more balanced or a drier finish, it would be a very good beer. (762 characters)

Photo of Ed2
3.97/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I get in the mood for sours... This one is readily available in my area and is a very good option. The Tart of Darkness has been the best I've ever tasted, but this will do very well. Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Brown, lightish.. With a white head about a finger and a half... A little lacing. Smell is what I'm looking for and starts the salivation. Taste. Yes. A very good sour brown. (398 characters)

Photo of BamaScholar
3.78/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I was pleased to find any Flanders Red Ale or Sour Ale here in Nashville, which, while improving, is hardly a Mecca for interesting fare.

It was a nice pour--the beer is a beautiful garnet tone. I may have even awarded a 5 if there were more carbonation, a better head. This may not be characteristic for the style, however.

The nose is quite unusual, the sour is there! It's like soaked cherries and a bit of musty earth.

It's not really terribly sour, just enough sweetness and bite to make for a balanced and refreshing mouthful.

Again, I could almost use a little more carbonation here, as it seems a little flat. But the dryness is quite nice. "Ahhhh" producing.

Delicious beer but one or two is plenty at-a-go. I will definitely be seeking more examples of the style. (788 characters)

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale from Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.
86 out of 100 based on 1,088 ratings.